Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of Ideals and Other Poems,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XI: Literary Criticism - part 04 (1902), pp. 114-115


[page 114:]


[Graham’s Magazine, April, 1842.]

EXTERNALLY, this is a beautiful little volume, in which Mr. Longfellow’s “Ballads “ just noticed are imitated with close precision. Internally, no two publications could be more different. A tripping prettiness, in thought and expression, is all to which the author of “Ideals” may claim. There is much poetry in his book, but none of a lofty order. The piece which gives name to the volume, is an unimpressive production of two pages and a half. The longest article is a tame translation of a portion of Göthe’s “Torquato Tasso.” The best, is entitled “Preaching in the Woods,” and this would bear comparison at some points with many of our most noted American poems. There are also twelve lines seemingly intended as a sonnet, and prefacing the book — twelve lines of a sweet and quaint simplicity. The general air of the whole is nevertheless commonplace. It has nothing, except its mechanical execution, to distinguish it from the multitudinous ephemera with which our national poetical press is now groaning.

As regards the minor morals of the Muse, the author is either uninformed or affected. He is especially fond of unusual accents; and this, at least, is a point in which novelty produces no good or admissible effect. He has consequently such words as “áccord” and “résource” — utter abominations. He is endeavoring too, and very literally, to render confusion worse confounded by the introduction into poetry of Carlyle’s [page 115:] hyper-ridiculous elisions in prose. Here, for example, where the pronoun “he” is left to be understood:

Now the fervent preacher rises,

And his theme is heavenly love,

Tells how once the blessed Saviour

Left his throne above.

His roughness is frequently reprehensible. We meet every where, or at least far too often, with lines such as this —

Its clustered stars beneath Spring’s footsteps meets

in which the consonants are more sadly clustered than the stars. The poet who would bring uninterruptedly together such letters as t h s p and r, has either no ear at all, or two unusually long ones. The word “footsteps,” moreover, should never be used in verse. To read the line quoted, one must mouth like Forrest and hiss like a serpent.





[S:1 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of Ideals and Other Poems)